Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

June 2005

Disc of the Month

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Susan Graham - Poèmes De L’amour


Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - June 2005

Catalogue No:

(2564 61938-2)



Release date:

16th May 2005




67 minutes


CD (download also available)
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Susan Graham - Poèmes De L’amour


Poème de l'amour et de la mer, Op. 19


Songs from Le livre de Baudelaire





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Ernest Chausson: Poème de l'amour et de la mer

I La fleur des eaux

II Interlude

III La mort de l'amour

Maurice Ravel: Shéhérazade

I Asie

II La flûte enchantée

III L'indifférent

Claude Debussy: Debussy / Arr Adams

5 Poèmes de Charles Baudelaire : I Le balcon

5 Poèmes de Charles Baudelaire : II Harmonie du soir

5 Poèmes de Charles Baudelaire : III Le jet d'eau

5 Poèmes de Charles Baudelaire : IV Receuillement

Gramophone Classical Music Guide


“Only a brave, or foolhardy, composer sets about reorchestrating Debussy.
Yet that's what John Adams has done, in 'Le jet d'eau', the third of Debussy's Cinqpoèmes de Charles Baudelaire, the first four of which Adams has chosen to score for a modern orchestra. He's done an effective job, and if it makes the songs sound more boisterous, less mysterious than in the usual version for voice and piano, he's probably doing his soloist a big favour. By common consent, these are the most difficult of all Debussy's early songs. Susan Graham seems totally in command, her diminuendo on the words 'Et le charme des soirs' is tender, and is echoed a few bars later by Adams providing a nostalgic woodwind for the reference to those firelit evenings, 'par l'audeur du charbon'.
There's a lovely photograph, taken in 1893, the year of Poème de l'amour et de la mer. It shows Debussy, at Chausson's house, playing the piano. Both composers are in white shirts, surrounded by a peaceful group of family and friends, all in summer clothes, the windows openThis is the sort of mood this disc evokes.
Yan Pascal Tortelier and Susan Graham give Chausson's work a well-nigh perfect performance, capturing the sense of quiet regret at the memory of springtime love that has faded, and of a story that is never quite told.
As for Ravel's Shéhérazade, like nearly all mezzo-sopranos, Graham is stretched to the limits of her resources by the big climactic phrases in 'Asie'. She sings a hushed, beautiful 'La flûte enchantée' and a rather too sad 'L'indifférent', but it's all done with a fine line, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra playing Ravel's music with a good deal of passion.”

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Editor's Choice

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Michael Haydn: Requiem

Michael Haydn: Requiem

Haydn, M:

Requiem in C minor pro defuncto Archiepiscopo Sigismundo, MH 155

Missa in honorem Sanctae Ursulae, MH 546 'Chiemsee-Messe'

Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Hilary Summers (alto), James Gilchrist (tenor), Peter Harvey (bass)

Choir of The King’s Consort, The King’s Consort, Robert King

“Robert King suggests that Michael Haydn's Requiem of 1771 for the Archbishop-Prince of Salzburg reflects a personal outpouring of grief for the loss of Haydn's beloved patron and the recent death of his infant daughter. The fervent expressions of grief, consolation and hope must have made some impression on the 15-year-old Mozart. A comparison with Mozart's Requiem setting of 20 years later is inevitable: Haydn didn't give his solo quartet anything that compares with the immediacy of Mozart's 'Tuba mirum', but the older man's masterful choral writing, brilliant orchestral scoring and sensitive use of solo voices created plenty of musical riches and dramatic moods, such as the brooding Kyrie and the bursting energy of the 'Dies irae'.
The quartet of soloists is impeccable; the choir and orchestra of The King's Consort prove to be increasingly assured and dynamic with each recording released. Robert King's measured and emphatic direction makes it easy to appreciate why the Requiem was performed at his brother Joseph's funeral in 1809.
His interpretation of the sunnier, extrovert Missa in honorem Sanctae Ursulae (1793) helps the music to sound natural and spontaneous. In some respects the Mass is an even finer composition, full of charismatic and inventive musical charms (it's worth buying for Carolyn Sampson's ravishing 'Benedictus' alone).
Anybody who enjoys the choral works of Mozart and Joseph Haydn will be delighted by this double-disc set, and will probably concur that Michael Haydn's neglect in the shadow of his younger friend and older brother is substantially corrected by these exquisite performances.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“A quality quartet of soloists, led by the vernal soprano of Carolyn Sampson.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2006

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2005

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Hyperion - CDA67510

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Albéniz - Iberia

Albéniz - Iberia


Iberia, books 1-4 (complete)

La Vega from the suite Alhambra

Yvonne en visite!



(completed by William Bolcom)

“Hamelin again achieves the almost physically impossible with seeming ease. Albéniz's multiple layers are finely balanced, and apparently awkward textures come to life in a lucid acoustic with pace, grace and a constant sense of dance.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2005 ****

“the over-riding impression you're left with is not of breathtaking virtuosity, but of extraordinary subtlety, a range of colours and delicately deployed effects that heightens the introspective imagination of the writing...I can't imagine how this two disc set could be improved, unless it came with two free plane tickets to Seville…” Andrew McGregor,, 4th July 2005

“Here's the most immaculate, effortless and refined of all Iberias. Where others fight to stay afloat, Marc-André Hamelin rides the crest of every formidable wave with nonchalant ease and poetry. Did Albéniz, as Rubinstein once claimed, need a helping hand in Iberia, simplifying textures for greater clarity, brilliance and accessibility? Hamelin's musical grace mocks the very question. His 'Evocación', audaciously free and perfumed, makes you hang on every note, and although characteristically cool, elegant and supple, he's true to the heart of Albéniz's incomparable tapestry of southern Spain. Try 'Almeria' and you'll hear playing of jewelled perfection, a mesmerising dreamworld rudely interrupted by 'Lavapiés', where every one of the composer's torrents of notes is made crystal clear.
Again, when has 'Málaga' been played with greater fluency and imaginative delicacy? Perhaps such playing is a compensation for Rubinstein's legendary but never recorded performance.
Certainly in its suppleness and transparency it has a Chopinesque rather than Lisztian bias, but Hamelin gives us all the notes and he's recorded in sound as natural and refined as his playing.
After Iberia there's La Vega, inspired by the plains surrounding Granada, by a 'land of flowers and sapphire skies'. This surely ranks among the greatest recordings of a Spanish piano work.
Limpid, haunting and evocative, it resolves every complexity in rapt poetry. For added measure he gives us 'Yvonne en visite', a hilarious imitation of a pianist who stumbles from note to note, tenacious but incompetent. Finally, there is 'Navarra', complete with William Bolcom's coda, a lengthy and witty résumé and cadenza rather than de Sévérac's brief conclu- Alain Instrumental 15 sion. Comparison with Larrocha's benchmark Albéniz is inevitable. But Hamelin's is radically different in both execution and character, and she, for all her magisterial command, is no match for him in musical grace and fluency.
Hamelin's Albéniz proudly but nonchalantly raises a new and astonishing standard.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“...technically nonchalant and textually astute...Hamelin's crisp, witty turn of phrase conjures up castanets and rioja” Gramophone Magazine, June 2010

“Simply put, this is now the recording of choice.” International Record Review

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2005

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - May 2005

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

Hyperion - CDA67476/7

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Mozart: The Magic Flute

Mozart: The Magic Flute


Die Zauberflöte, K620

Sung in English (translation by Jeremy Sams)

Barry Banks (Tamino), Rebecca Evans (Pamina), Elizabeth Vidal (Queen of the Night), Simon Keenlyside (Papageno), John Tomlinson (Sarastro), Majella Cullagh (First Lady), Sarah Fox (Second Lady), Diana Montague (Third Lady), Lesley Garrett (Papagena), John Graham-Hall (Monostatos)

Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, New London Children’s Choir, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras

“No work makes better sense in the vernacular than Mozart's concluding masterpiece. The composer and, assuredly, Schikaneder would have approved of giving the work in the language of the listeners, and when you have to hand such a witty, well-worded translation as that of Jeremy Sams, it makes even better sense. Sir Charles Mackerras has always been an advocate of opera in English when the circumstances are right.
As ever, he proves himself a loving and perceptive Mozartian. Throughout he wonderfully contrasts the warmth and sensuousness of the music for the good characters with the fire and fury of the baddies, and he persuades the LPO to play with a lightness and promptness that's wholly enchanting, quite the equal of most bands on the other available versions.
In no way is his interpretation here inferior to his German one on Telarc; indeed, in the central roles of Tamino and Pamina the casting for Chandos is an improvement, and Keenlyside is fully the equal of Thomas Allen on the Telarc set. Keenlyside's loveable, slightly sad, very human and perfectly sung Papageno is at the centre of things. Rebecca Evans's voice has taken on a new richness without losing any of its focus or delicacy of utterance. Everything she does has sincerity and poise, although her diction might, with advantage, be clearer.
The recording is fine apart from an over-use of thunder and lightning as sound effects. Anyone wanting the work in English needn't hesitate to acquire this set, the first-ever on CD.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Of all repertoire operas, none gains more than The Magic Flute from performance in the language of the audience. Musically, the performance is hard to fault. Articulation is light and buoyant, tempos mobile yet never driven or inflexible, textures sharp and transparent. Rebecca Evans, a richer-toned Pamina than usual, movingly portrays her development from ingénue to woman 'worthy to attain the light'. ...Simon Keenlyside is a marvellous Papageno, innocent, vulnerable and funny without clownishness. Barry Banks... sings a positive, un-wimpish Tamino. With his rugged, rolling bass John Tomlinson creates a formidably imposing yet humane Sarastro, while Elizabeth Vidal atones for some cloudy diction with fiery, bang in-tune performances of the Queen of the Night's arias. ...this new performance, beautifully recorded, with a modicum of well-judged sound effects, catches the work's fairytale wonder, solemnity and fun as fully and delightfully as any, irrespective of language.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2005 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2005

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - June 2005

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3121

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Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

James Morris (Hans Sachs), Ben Heppner (Walther von Stolzing), Karita Mattila (Eva), Thomas Allen (Beckmesser), Jill Grove (Magdalena), Matthew Polenzani (David), René Pape (Pogner), John Relyea (Nachtwächter)

Metropolitan Opera & Chorus, James Levine

“Thank goodness for no quirky ideas...The singers are all outstanding, led by James Morris's warmly genial Sachs...and by Ben Heppner, who is an equally convincing Walther...Mattila not only looks gorgeous but sings ravishingly as Eva, while Sir Thomas Allen's characterisation of Beckmesser is all his own...Levine's conducting holds the performance together richly” Penguin Guide, 2010 ****

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - June 2005

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

DG - 0730949

(DVD Video - 2 discs)


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Mozart - Richard Goode

Mozart - Richard Goode


Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K310

March in C Major, K408

Courante in E-flat Major, K399

Gigue in G Major, K574

Rondo in A Minor, K511

Piano Sonata No. 15 in F major, K533/494

“A Mozart programme such as this, which includes two of the greatest sonatas and the A minor Rondo, leaves absolutely no margin for error or insufficiency, nor indeed for anything at all approximate or generalised. It's given to very few to play Mozart as well as Richard Goode, who seems to pitch the rhetoric just right and sustain an ideal balance of strength and refinement.
It's quite big playing, and the range of sonority is appropriate to the A minor Sonata, K310, in particular; no other recent recording realises so well the sharp contrasts, the cross-cut abutments of dynamics, which are such a striking feature in all three movements. Goode has a characteristic touch of urgency that has nothing to do with impetuosity or agitation of the surface, but rather with carrying the discourse forward and making us curious about what will happen next. In the presto finale, where Brendel is choppy and rather slow, Goode is exciting and articulate, wonderfully adept at getting from one thing to another.
There's little to choose between these players in the composite F major Sonata, K533. Brendel is at his finest in the dark, far-reaching middle movement; both of them relish the challenge of characterising the multifariousness of the first; Goode is especially convincing in the last movement.
He gives you the overview, too, often powerfully.
While admiring the flux of intensities, dynamics, shapes and colours he sets before you in the Rondo, you might wonder three-quarters of the way through whether the totality was going to achieve enough weight. But the coda is to come – passionate and desolate, a close without parallel in Mozart's instrumental music – and at moments such as this you can be assured that Goode will surprise and certainly not disappoint.
The shorter pieces, enterprisingly chosen, set off the great works admirably. Exceptional sound throughout – like the playing, quite out of the ordinary run.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Goode gives a powerful and intense performance of the A minor Sonata, though one might feel that his tempo for the first movement is on the swift side for Mozart's 'maestoso' marking. …without doubt, this new disc gives a great deal of pleasure.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2005 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2005

Building a Library

First Choice - October 2013

Building a Library

First Choice - November 2012

Nonesuch - 7559798312



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Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No. 1

Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No. 1

and works by Chausson, Massenet & Saint-Saëns


Contemplations (Wie melodien zieht es mir)

(arr Julian Reynolds)


Poème for Violin & Orchestra, Op. 25


Méditation (from Thaïs)

Méditation (from Thaïs)

(performance track)


Havanaise, Op. 83


Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 35


Fragment for the Virgin

“Benedetti shows a real individuality and maturity. It's an interesting programme well suited to her excellent technique and tone, which she intuitively adapts to suit each of the works...Best of all though is her stunningly mature performance of the Chausson Poème. This piece suits her playing perfectly and she produces a consistent line throughout as good as some of the greats of the past.” Claire Rogers,, 9th May 2005

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2005

DG - 9870577



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Haydn: The Creation

Haydn: The Creation

(sung in German)

Sun Hae Im (soprano), Jan Kobow (tenor), Hanno Müller-Brachmann (bass)

VokalEnsemble Köln, Capella Augustina, Andreas Spering

“Recorded in Cologne in July 2003 by German Radio, this issue offers a first-rate period performance of Haydn's masterpiece, lively and well sung. Since other issues of Die Schöpfung in the super-budget category use modern instruments it fills an important gap, particularly as the digital sound is so clear and transparent.
Andreas Spering successfully brings out the composer's eternal freshness.
The prelude representing Chaos is taken slowly, markedly more so than by Gardiner or Brüggen, but that brings out all the more the abrasiveness of Haydn's daring dissonances.
After the extreme hush of that opening the choral cry of 'Licht' is shattering in its impact; in the following tenor aria Spering shows his true colours in a crisp, faster-than-usual Andante that's exhilaratingly carefree, not least at the felicitous passage, marked sotto voce, when the chorus sings of 'eine neue Welt'. His speeds are generally on the fast side, but when, as in the prelude, the marking is Largo as opposed to Andante or Adagio, he takes a measured view.
The Cologne Vocal Ensemble is a relatively compact body, incisive in its attack, and set in a helpful but not over-large acoustic. The three soloists are all excellent and youthful-sounding.
An outstanding bargain.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2005

Naxos - 8557380-81

(CD - 2 discs)


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John Browne - Music from the Eton Choirbook

John Browne - Music from the Eton Choirbook

Browne, J:

Salve regina I

Stabat iuxta

Stabat mater

O regina mundi clara

O Maria salvatoris mater

“By any other name, John Browne would surely be recognised as one of the very greatest English composers. The fact that fewer than 10 works survive intact in the Eton Choirbook (practically the only source transmitting his music anyway) only adds to his mysterious aura; the music sends normally dispassionate specialists reaching for superlatives. He stands head and shoulders above the other Eton composers, and it's high time he was accorded an anthology of his own. The discography of early polyphonic music has made such great strides that 'landmark' recordings are fewer and further between; yet this can hardly be described as anything else.
An index of Browne's stature is the variety of scorings he deploys. His eight-voice O MariaSalvatorismater was considered extraordinary enough to be given pride of place in the Eton Choirbook, and each of the three six-voice pieces included here is scored differently. No other Eton composer wrote so much six-voice music excluding trebles. Two of his pieces in this mould (Stabat iuxta Christi crucem and Oregina mundi) are here recorded convincingly for the first time. Phillips's line-up of men's voices (especially on the top lines) is as superb as Browne's must have been, for an exceptional keenness of focus is needed to prevent the thick texture from becoming stodgy; as it is, the sound of six parts jostling in a compass of under two octaves is thrilling.
But the pieces with trebles have long been reckoned Browne's masterpieces; as such, they have been recorded several times before. Phillips sees Browne as a mystical figure, and his choice of tempi in the Stabat mater and O Maria reflects this. His singers articulate it so convincingly as to suspend disbelief absolutely. The Tallis Scholars are to be heard at their best in this repertory; this recording confirms that. If you don't know Browne's music, you simply must hear this.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“the sheer beauty and crystalline perfection of these performances from the Tallis Scholars, with those high-flying treble lines so radiantly recorded, make this an unforgettable and richly rewarding experience.” Andrew McGregor,, 7th June 2005

GGramophone Awards 2005

Winner - Early Music

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2005

Gimell - CDGIM036



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Verdi: La Traviata

Verdi: La Traviata

Rosanna Carteri (Violetta), Cesare Valletti (Alfredo), Leonard Warren (Giorgio Germont), Lidia Marimpietri (Flora), Rina Alessandri (Annina)

Coro e Orchestra del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Pierre Monteux

Studio recording, 1956 (mono)

“perhaps the principal reason for valuing this vintage set lies in the conducting of the octogenarian, Pierre Monteux. He brings together lyrical warmth and vigour with a rhythmic lift that is amazing in an ageing conductor. The mono sound is nicely balanced.” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ***

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - June 2005

Testament - SBT21369

(CD - 2 discs)


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